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About the author:
I live in the wilds of outer West London with my boyfriend, cat, dog and goldfish. I have just released my debut novel which is the first in a series of contemporary romances in glamorous international settings.
What inspired you to write your book?
The original idea came into my head out of nowhere really, I started writing one day and the first chapter just appeared! The setting was inspired by a trip to Dubai not long before I started writing. I found it to be a place of contrasts, between the modern world of luxury hotels and skyscrapers, and the old Dubai of the souks, mosques and desert. I was quite fascinated by it and knew it was somewhere I wanted to revisit in my book.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Isabel Risa was rushing. The most important meeting of her working life was due to start in just over half an hour and the last thing she needed was to be late, although the heavy London traffic and rain beating down in sheets against her windscreen, seemed to have other ideas for her. She ran through some last minute ideas for her pitch in her head as she waited for the lights to change to green. This could finally be the break she had been waiting for since she started out in public relations two years ago. If she could just nab the huge Matton account it could be the move that put her company, ID Public Relations, on the map. Impatiently she pushed a strand of her long, dark brown hair out of her eyes and drummed her fingers on the steering wheel.
“Come on,” she muttered, as the queue of traffic ahead started moving and she shifted gears into second. The rain continued to pound as she rounded the bend, faster than her wipers could handle, obscuring her view of the grey BMW driving straight into her path until it was just seconds from hitting her. Isabel gasped and slammed on the brakes. The car screeched to a stop. There was a dull thud and Isabel felt herself thrown forward slightly as the impact of the collision pushed her tiny Fiat 500 up onto the kerb. Dazed, she sat there for a second, trying to get her bearings. Then she unbuckled her seatbelt and scrambled out of the car to inspect the damage. Thankfully, it appeared that both drivers had braked in time to prevent any serious damage, aside from a few dents on the front bumpers of both cars. She turned to face the person responsible for the accident.
“Can’t you look where you’re going?” she yelled; all thoughts of politeness had gone out of the window.
The man staring back at her was tall, over six feet, with dark hair and chiselled features. He looked to be in his late twenties in age. Judging by the contours of his folded arms visible through the material of his impeccably cut grey suit, he appeared to be packing some serious muscle under there. He narrowed his eyes, which Isabel couldn’t help but notice, were a striking dark green. He seemed to radiate a sense of power, heightened by the fact that he appeared to be equally furious with her.
“Can’t I look where I’m going?” he shouted back. What about you, driving 50mph around a blind bend?” He pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket and dialled rapidly as he talked. “I’d better call my driver…George, can you come and pick me up…yes, just off Oxford Street.” He hung up and glared at her with cold eyes. “We had better swap details.” Isabel bristled. She straightened up to the full 5’8” in height afforded her by the new black patent leather heels, which she had bought specifically for the meeting, which she was becoming later by the second for. This man, Isabel felt, was looking at her as if she was something that had crawled out from under a rock, and his condescending stare was really beginning to irk her.
“Maybe I was driving a little too fast, but only because I have the most important presentation of my entire life in less than twenty minutes and my chances of making it are now ruined thanks to you,” she yelled, horrified at the realization that tears were threatening to spill from her eyes, as she thought of the weeks of hard work her team had put in for the upcoming meeting, ruined in seconds by some idiot in a flashy car. The stranger’s expression softened a fraction.
“Where is it you need to go?”
“Matton Travel Headquarters. Not that it’s any of your business. I need to get going.” Isabel took a business card out from her handbag and tossed it at him. He caught it easily and pocketed it, not breaking eye contact with her. “There’s my details, call my office about the insurance stuff.” Isabel grabbed her bag and file of research from the boot, having decided that she was better off walking. As she hurried with some difficulty down the cobbled street, not having had a chance to break in her new shoes yet, she heard footsteps behind her.
“Wait up.” He caught up to her in a couple of easy strides of his long legs. He opened up an umbrella and extended it over both their heads. “Let my chauffeur take you. He’s on his way. It will be much quicker than walking in those high heels.” He smirked and Isabel felt her irritation rising. How dare he laugh at her?! And seriously, a chauffeur? Who did he think he was?! These rich guys were the all same, she thought to herself, remembering another tall, gorgeous rich guy from her past. She pushed the memory of how that had ended to the back of her mind.
“Thanks, but I can’t accept. I don’t even know you,” she said.
“So what? You’re late and you know it makes sense,” he said simply, and gestured further down the road to where a black Range Rover was pulling up. “George is here.”
He did have a point, she acknowledged. Isabel was fiercely independent by nature but was aware she may just have to swallow her pride for once and accept his help. People were counting on her to make this meeting work. And it wasn’t like she would ever see or hear from him again, at least not beyond insurance details.
“Fine,” she sighed, “as it’s an emergency.” She walked over to the car, treading carefully in her heels to avoid giving him any further cause for amusement, thanking the middle aged driver in a black suit, as he opened the door for her. “Thank you,” she turned back to the handsome stranger. “You may have just saved my life.”
Isabel took a deep breath as she looked into the mirror. Thanks to the chauffeur George’s expert knowledge of the back streets of central London, she had actually managed to make it to the place of her meeting ahead of schedule and was now taking a few moments to clear her head in the sanctuary of the cream marble bathroom at Matton Travel Headquarters. Although she had practiced her pitch many times in the preceding weeks, she took the opportunity to rehearse it again. Despite her uncharacteristic nerves regarding the presentation, she was having trouble keeping the events of the morning, and the image of dark green eyes, out of her mind. She shook her head. Keep your eye on the prize Isabel, she mentally admonished as she checked her watch. The rose coloured dial showed twelve fifteen. Showtime. She smoothed invisible creases out of her sleek fitted blue shift dress and made her way to the conference room.
Matton Travel Headquarters was housed in an imposing listed red brick building in the heart of Holborn. As the leading luxury travel and tourism portfolio in Europe, Matton Travel counted amongst its assets some of the world’s most iconic hotels and properties. Isabel knew that securing such a high profile account would propel ID Public Relations into a new league. Matton had been a struggling family business five years before, until it was taken over by a publicity shy entrepreneur named Henry Darling who had transformed it into a multi-billion pound turnover, FTSE listed corporation. As she neared the conference room Isabel took a slow, deep breath, now feeling composed, calm and ready for the challenge. All those weeks of preparation and hopefully soon her fledgling company ID PR would be seeing the results. She knocked on the heavy oak door. After a few seconds a young, smiling blonde secretary opened it.
“They are ready for you Miss Risa.”
Isabel glanced around the room as she entered. Four members of the board were seated around a large oval table. The secretary motioned for Isabel to take a seat at the head.
“Hello Miss Risa. Thanks you for joining us,” said a grey haired man in a pin striped suit who introduced himself as Mark Greenway, vice chairman of Matton, in a warm tone which belied his slightly stern appearance. The team introduced themselves in turn; seated on Isabel’s left was the financial director Karine Walder, a motherly looking lady with a direct gaze and friendly manner. Next to her was Tom Farley, the company’s creative director; a sandy haired man in his late twenties who Isabel knew was one of the new faces Darling had brought on board during the overhaul.
“We’re one man down right now,” said Tom with a smile. “Henry’s running late, he said not to wait so why don’t you go ahead and start.” Isabel was eager to meet the man behind the transformation of Matton. From the little she could find out about him, it seemed Darling was very much a self made man who had fought for the success of the company whilst staying true to it’s original values. Isabel definitely approved of this, as she considered herself a self made woman and believed in working hard for success. So unlike some flashy idiots with their designer suits and expensive cars, she thought, as her mind again wandered to the green eyes from this morning. She quickly dismissed the image. Focus. She stood up confidently, ready to deliver her pitch.
“Thank you for inviting me here today,” she began. “Over the next half and hour or so, I will be outlining how ID Public Relations can help you to…”
The rest of her sentence was drowned out by a clatter and the sound of the door slamming as the fourth board member made his entrance. Isabel almost fell over as a familiar tall, dark haired figure in an immaculately cut grey suit proceeded to take his seat at the table in front of her.